Horizon season heats up for Penguins

Special to the Vindicator


YSU's Vytas Sulskis rushes by KSU Rodriquez Sherman during the first period on Tuesday night at the Kent State MAC center in Kent, Ohio.



Vs.: UIC

When: Thursday, 7:05 p.m.

Where: Beeghly Center

Vs.: Loyola

When: Saturday, 1:05 p.m

Where: Beeghly Center

Radio/Internet: WKBN-AM (570)/horizonleaguenetwork.tv


Vs.: Loyola

When: Friday, 2 p.m.

Where: Chicago

Vs.: UIC

When: Sunday, 4 p.m.

Where: Chicago

Internet: Horizonleaguenetwork.tv

By Jon Moffett



Now that the holiday food has digested, it’s time for the Youngstown State men’s basketball team to indulge in something else: conference play.

It’s the time of year where teams throw away their records thus far like old wrapping paper, and prepare for the rest of the season in front of them. And coach Jerry Slocum knows this is most wonderful time of the year.

“I think the first thing is to get our guys back in shape [from the holiday break] and get them back to where we’re focused to play,” he said. “After a five-day break with guys have flights canceled. So the first part of that is just to get them back and get their minds right in terms of conditioning and that.”

And while the Penguins have already played two games within the Horizon League —both losses — the team will really get into the swing. Fifteen of the team’s next 17 games are conference contests. But Thursday’s game will be the first home conference game for the Penguins.

What makes things interesting is that the Penguins are undefeated at home. They are a perfect 5-0 at the Beeghly Center.

But the team is also 0-6 on the road, including Horizon games against Milwaukee and Green Bay. Slocum said his team needs to take advantage of the friendly confines of the campus to get a hot start.

“These are huge home games for us,” Slocum said. “We have our hands full against two very, very good basketball teams right now.”

Those two teams are UIC and Loyola. First up are the Flames (5-8, 0-1 Horizon) on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. UIC opened its conference play with a 68-66 overtime loss to Valparaiso on Dec. 2.

Next is a home game on New Year’s Day against Loyola. The Ramblers (9-4, 0-2 Horizon) lost to Valparaiso and Butler this month.

With glaring road woes, Slocum said he hopes the team can take advantage of its upcoming home games. Six of the next eight games are at the Beeghly Center. He added that a tough non-conference schedule should help.

“I think it helped us well,” he said. “The encouraging factor, for me, is that we’ve been in every game. I think we’ve been tested and we’ve played up in a lot of games.

“I think our guys have shown their mettle by competing pretty well,” he said.

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